While the province transitions forward with lifting restrictions and businesses reopen, we are seeing ourselves reintegrate back into society with a fresh perspective, renewed gratitude for our social circles and beloved institutions, and perhaps a couple of extra pounds and longer locks than we entered into quarantine with.
This time has presented us the opportunity to take a step back from our regular routines, embrace more of our natural side, and retire our restrictive button-fly bottoms in favour of drawstrings and elastic waistbands.
As a local retail business owner, I have heard many discussions of added weight, disdain for restrictive clothing and an overall appreciation for the soft and cozy pieces that helped bring us comfort while staying home over the past few months. There is no doubt that our fashion choices are guided by our immediate reality and that COVID-casual has now permeated into the 2020 social zeitgeist in the form of “inactivewear.”
The last time the streets were flooded with spandex-laden garments and structureless clothing was the explosion of athleisurewear, introduced by Canadian brands such as Lululemon, during the fitness boom of the early 2000s. Women took to the streets in various fits of black stretch pants, feeling liberated from the buckles and buttons of the trousers of yesterday.
Now rest assured, this is not an op-ed endorsing the abolition of all tailored garments in favour of lycra and elastic. I truly missed being able to express myself through my fashion choices during the quarantine. I have always found the act of dressing a key component of my self-expression and an outlet for my right-side brain. As I reopened the doors of my boutique in mid-May, I was relieved to see I was not alone in mourning the days of getting to dress my best before heading out unrestricted into the world to go about my business.
What I suspect will be the consequence of our collective experience over the past few months is that we will demand a stronger bond between function and fashion when selecting a piece to add to our wardrobes. No longer will we feel comfortable seeing a closet full of clothing we have no occasion to wear. Instead, fashion consumers will be guided by the principles of multi-use, transitional pieces that can take us from day to night and across a variety of occasions.
Just as this quarantine has shown us that we are able to live with a little less in our lives, so too can our closets. Our clothes should make us feel good, both inside and out. They should tick more than just one box, and we deserve to have the fashion industry supply us with pieces that meet the moment we are in. This doesn’t mean that sweatpants are the new streetwear, but by reducing waste, prioritizing utility alongside esthetic, and celebrating creative expression, the industry can create a new mandate that we consumers embrace as we navigate our way forward, together.